Organic vs. Conventional

I get asked all the time if people should buy organic and what should be organic. From eggs to meat to produce and everything in between, it can certainly be confusing. Sure, there are certain items that should or are advised to be better as organic. And by “better” I don’t necessarily mean more nutritious.

Let’s start with definitions:

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What does ORGANIC mean?

“Organic crops are raised without using most conventional pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers, or sewage sludge-based fertilizers. Animals raised on an organic operation must be fed organic feed and given access to the
outdoors. They are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. The NOP regulations prohibit the use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, and sewage sludge in organic production and handling.” (1)

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Are there Labeling Laws? yes.

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Common ORGANIC questions:

Is organic food healthier than conventional food?

– This is an interesting question. The question for me to you is “what is your definition of healthy?” Organic standards are not a measurement of food quality. It is simply what is stated above. The nutritional quality (read: amount of nutrients) is not a part of the organic certification process. While there have been a few studies that suggest that some nutrients may be higher in organic produce (like vitamin C and some phytonutrients), the research is too limited and too difficult to execute for there to be enough definitive evidence to support these claims. Additionally, “conventional” agriculture is not well-defined. Farming practices can vary from farm to farm leaving researchers unable to make conclusive statements.  BOTTOM LINE: Maybe. Research doesn’t show it definitively.

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Does organic food taste better?

– That’s up to you to decide. Chef’s are certainly choosing more organic food for their restaurants because they think the taste is superior. BOTTOM LINE: It’s a personal decision.

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Is organic food safer to eat?

– Generally, probably. Considering organic food doesn’t use pesticides and other fertilizers, those chemicals will not be on that food. (Some of the produce items that you may want to consider getting organic are those with edible skin like berries, apples, peaches, celery, peppers, pears, and greens…due to pesticides). However, there are many steps to get food to the store,on the shelves and onto your plate. The hands that touch your food before it reaches your plate are not regulated. Take that for what it’s worth. Sure that apple may be grown in well-balanced soil and is free of  “conventional pesticides,” but what else has touched that apple in the shipping and stocking process.  Additionally, did you know that organic farms are allowed to use manure as fertilizer? There are guidelines which are supposed to prevent contamination from the manure. But which one would you rather have on your food? Just wondering… There have also been some studies that still find pathogens and other harmful substances in organically grown livestock due to other environmental factors. BOTTOM LINE: You can’t ensure that just because the food is labeled organic that it also means it is safe. Always wash your produce and consider all factors when choosing which foods to buy organic.

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I know these are just a few of the questions people have about organic food. What is your question??? I’d be happy to give the answer a try 🙂

Also, this link has tons of additional info… most of the stuff in this post from here.

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